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Pennsylvania drafts new limits on air pollution from gas wells.

December 22, 2018

Pennsylvania environmental regulators are rolling out draft rules for controlling air pollution from the state’s thousands of existing oil and gas wells but the long-awaited measures have a shaky federal foundation according to a December 12, 2018 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report.

On December 13, 2018 the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) posted proposed rules for cutting smog-forming compounds based on Obama-era guidelines from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that the Trump administration is proposing to withdraw.

The new state proposal is designed to curb direct emissions and leaks of volatile organic compounds from older well sites, storage tanks and other oil and gas facilities that aren’t covered by air pollution rules that DEP adopted earlier this year.

DEP’s proposal covers equipment like storage tanks, compressors, pneumatic controllers and pumps at existing well sites, processing plants and gathering stations.
It largely mirrors the EPA guidance except for requiring more frequent leak detection surveys — four times a year instead of twice — and maintaining the state’s stricter standards for tanks installed after August 2013.

The proposed rules would not directly control emissions of methane, but they are expected to cut down on leaks of the powerful greenhouse gas as a side benefit because volatile organic compounds and methane commingle in natural gas.

Companies would also have to search for, and repair, methane leaks as part of routine monitoring surveys included in the proposal.

In documents prepared for an advisory board meeting where DEP will discuss the draft the agency said it plans to develop regulations for existing oil and gas facilities “despite EPA’s proposed withdrawal” because doing so will demonstrate that additional emissions reductions from existing oil and gas sites “are technically and economically feasible.”

The U.S. EPA said in March that withdrawing its guidelines “would not prevent states from independently taking steps to reduce emissions from the oil and gas industry if they choose to do so.”

What this means to you
Pennsylvania DEP is rolling out draft rules for controlling air pollution from the state’s thousands of existing oil and gas wells. DEP’s proposal covers equipment like storage tanks, compressors, pneumatic controllers and pumps at existing well sites, processing plants and gathering stations.

MIRATECH can help
Contact MIRATECH for stationary engine emission compliance solutions in oil and natural gas operations.